How to Make Sour Wine Taste Better

How to Make Sour Wine Taste Better: Save Your Wine

You’ve probably experienced this: You spent time at a wine shop picking out a wine for a special occasion, but when you open it and have a taste it’s sour! Now, what do you do? You don’t want everyone thinking you have bad taste in wine! Is there a way to make sour wine taste better?

The quick answer is yes, there are several ways you can make sour wine taste better. The easiest way is to let the wine breathe. We recommend letting all wines breathe for at least 30 minutes before enjoying them. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can add a teaspoon of sugar to it to help balance the acidity.

But there are several other ways you can make sour wine taste better too. In this article, we’ll go over the top methods of fixing bad tasting wine, as well as some uses for wine that doesn’t taste good even after trying to save it.

Let’s jump in!

How to Make Sour Wine Taste Better by Decanting

Author Note: As we mentioned above, probably the easiest way of making sour wine taste better is to simply open it and let it rest! That’s right, many wines need at least 30 minutes to oxygenate and decant.

So what exactly happens when a wine is decanting? Glad you asked! When you open a bottle of wine, you allow oxygen to come in contact with it for the first time in several (or many) years. This causes evaporation and oxidation of volatile compounds in the wine. These chemical reactions are beneficial to wine as it allows common bad-tasting volatile compounds to leave the wine.

Unpleasant odors like rotten eggs, wet dog, or rubbing alcohol will dissipate bringing out the wine’s complex fruity floral aromas. Although exposing your wine to air for too long will cause your wine to become flat, turn brownish, and eventually turn to vinegar. But allowing a small amount of oxygen to react with your wine can work wonders to getting rid of sour flavors.

Let’s go over how to decant your wine properly.

  1. The first step is to open your wine properly. We like using either a traditional wine bottle opener or a butterfly wine bottle opener.
  2. Once you have opened your bottle of wine, you can either let it decant in your guest’s wine glasses (like if you are serving dinner) or you can pour it into a decanter. 
  3. If you don’t have a decanter, there are plenty of other options you can choose from.
  4. After pouring out your wine in glasses or a decanter, let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  5. If the wine is still sour after decanting for 30 minutes, try waiting another 30 minutes. 
  6. If it is still sour after an additional 30 minutes, you may need to try one of the other methods we go into later in the article.

How to Make Sour Wine Taste Better by Adding Sugar

Couple at wine tasting.

Another very common way of making sour wine taste better is by adding sugar. This may seem controversial to experienced wine drinkers, but at the end of the day, we are simply trying to make a bad tasting wine taste better. 

Adding sugar will reduce the acid profile of the wine and make most people think it tastes better.

Here’s how to properly add sugar to your wine.

  1. The first step is to open your wine properly. We like using either a traditional wine bottle opener or a butterfly wine bottle opener.
  2. After opening your wine, pour it out into a large bowl.
  3. Then, add one teaspoon of white granulated sugar to it and begin mixing.
  4. The mixing process will also help to decant the wine, so you’ll benefit from that process as well.
  5. After the sugar has dissolved completely, taste the wine.
  6. If it’s still too sour, add another teaspoon of sugar. 
  7. Repeat this process until you get a flavor profile you like!

Turn Sour Wine into Sangria

Along the same lines as adding sugar to a sour wine to make it taste better, sour wine is also a great candidate to make sangria out of! That’s right, having a tart wine as your base for making sangria actually works very well.

Here’s a quick recipe on how to make sangria out of sour wine.

  1. Start by pouring your wine into a large bowl or pot.
  2. Cut up your fruits of choice. We like using two oranges and an apple. Cut them up into sixths.
  3. Add the fruits to wine and let them soak. If you want to extract more of their flavors, you can muddle them with a wooden spoon at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Next, you’ll need to add your sweetener. We like using granulated sugar. Start with 4 tablespoons and add more to taste.
  5. Then, add ⅓ of a cup of brandy. This gives your sangria an extra kick.
  6. Mix everything up and add 1 cup of ice to chill. 
  7. You can enjoy your sangria immediately, or wait 30 minutes to let the flavors of the fruits combine with the wine.
  8. You can store any leftover sangria in your fridge for up 48 hours.

Make Sour Wine Taste Better by Chilling it

Man smelling red wine

Author Note: Another common way of making drinks taste better is to serve very cold. Much like a cheap beer, serving sour wine cold will mask some of its bad flavors with temperature. This can work especially well with sour white wines.

Here are some tips on how to chill your sour wine effectively.

  • If you are pressed for time, you can chill your sour wine very quickly in an ice bath. Pour ice into a large bowl and add enough water so all the ice is submerged. Then place your wine bottle at an angle so most of the body of the bottle is in contact with ice. Then spin your bottle to get as much surface area of the wine cooled as fast as possible. After 10 to 15 minutes your bottle should be ice cold.
  • If you have a bit more time, you can simply leave your bottle of wine in your freezer for 30 minutes. THis will quickly chill it to your desired temperature. Just don’t forget about your bottle and leave it in the freezer for longer! You could end up exploding the bottle and making a big mess.
  • If you have 8 hours before you want to serve your wine, simply leave it in the fridge to chill it.

Using Sour Wine to Cook

If your wine isn’t spoiled and just tastes kind of sour, you can definitely still use it for cooking. This is a great option for sour wine as the bold flavor will often impart to food well. 

Be sure to smell/taste the wine to make sure it is still safe to consume. If it smells bad do not drink it or use it for cooking! Pour it down the drain and save yourself the potential health hazard.

Here are a few tips on how to use sour wine for cooking.

  • Ideally, you can use the sour wine only a few days after opening it or after letting it sit in the fridge open for too long. If this is the case, feel free to add it to spaghetti sauces or use it to saute meats and seafood.
  • If you don’t want to use it right away, you can store it in your freezer. That’s right! Pour the sour wine into an unused ice cube tray and freeze it into cubes. You now have an easy and quick way to add a little cooking wine. It also won’t go bad for many months when frozen.
  • If you didn’t drink the sour wine because you didn’t like how it tasted when you open it, be wary of adding it to the food you already enjoy. While cooking wine removes a lot of its flavors, you’ll most likely still be able to taste the overall flavor of the wine. So if you hated it, you’re better off dumping it down the drain than potentially ruining your dinner.
  • Another great option for sour wine is to turn it into vinegar. Check out our how-to article on that for more info!

Consider Returning Sour Wine

three glass of white red and rose wine with dim light in wooden restaurant table with a grape background

As with any bad-tasting wine, an option you always have is to try returning to the seller. If you’re at a restaurant, this will almost always work. Just don’t make a habit of it! 

Author Note: If you bought the wine from a wine purveyor or wine store, you can often take it back for a refund if the flavor is egregiously bad. We recommend checking the store’s policies before purchasing from them to figure out what their return policy is.

While many wine drinkers feel that asking for a refund is rude if the wine is really bad tasting or potentially corked it’s totally acceptable.

Parting Thoughts

Dealing with sour wine is not fun, especially if you’re hosting friends and family over for drinks. Luckily there are several ways to make sour wine taste better or find other uses for it. And worst-case scenario, you can most likely get a refund for bad wine if you order it at a restaurant or buy it from a wine store.

We hope you found this article informative and useful. Making sure everyone enjoys the wine you serve can be a lot of pressure, and hopefully, this article helped relieve some of that pressure. 

If you have additional ways you use to make sour wine taste better, we would love to hear about them in the comments below. 

To living a full-bodied life,

Wesley

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